The unique structure of the traditional Survivor Series match means there are a lot of moving parts.
Each was set to wrestle in elimination matches this year before being replaced on recent television shows.
Switches have been made due to creative, injury, releases, or altogether more controversial reasons.
8. Team Hogan vs. Team Andre – Survivor Series 1987
The inaugural Survivor Series took place on pay-per-view in November 1987. The Federation spent months testing the concept, staging multi-person elimination tag matches on house shows.
The first of these aired on Prime Time Wrestling back in March 1987 and featured Roddy Piper, the Junkyard Dog, and Ricky Steamboat toppling Randy Savage, Adrian Adonis and Harley Race.
There was speculation that the show might feature a rematch between WWF Champion Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant, coming off their enormously successfully WrestleMania III showdown.
Instead, the pair each captained five-man teams for an elimination match. Andre’s team included Butch Reed, King Kong Bundy, One Man Gang and Rick Rude.
They were victorious over Hogan, Bam Bam Bigelow, Don Muraco, Ken Patera and Paul Orndorff.
Muraco was a late replacement for “Superstar” Billy Graham. Superstar made a short-lived attempt at a comeback in 1986-87.
He was due to be on the babyface side before a serious hip complaint meant he had to be written out.
Graham never competed on a WWF pay-per-view and we missed out on seeing him team with Hogan.
7. Team Savage vs. Team Ultimate Warrior – Survivor Series 1989
One unexpected name who did get the honour of working a match at a WWF pay-per-view was Bobby “The Brain” Heenan.
Heenan was again called into action as a substitute for Tully Blanchard in the main event of that year’s Survivor Series.
Heenan subbed in for Tully Blanchard who was fired on the morning of the show for failing a drug test, shortly after announcing his decision to return to WCW.
Arn Arnderson, Andre, Haku and Heenan lost in the main event to the Ultimate Warrior, Jim Neidhart and The Rockers.
Elsewhere, Barry Windham was supposed to make his comeback to the Federation in his new guise as “The Widowmaker.”
He walked out of the WWF when his family became embroiled in a legal case and was replaced by the (Canadian) Earthquake.
6. Colonel Mustafa, Big Bully Busick, The Berzerker & Skinner vs. Sgt. Slaughter, Jim Duggan, Texas Tornado & Tito Santana – Survivor Series 1991
Add Big Bully Busick to the list of people who came ever so close to performing in a WWF/WWE pay-per-view match but just fell a little short.
Busick is best remembered for his handlebar moustache rather than anything in-ring during his six-month stint with the company.
Busick quit the WWF before getting the chance to lose to Sgt Slaughter, Jim Duggan, Kerry Von Erich and Tito Santana alongside Colonel Mustafa, The Berzerker and Skinner. He was replaced by Hercules.
5. Randy Savage & The Ultimate Warrior vs. Razor Ramon & Ric Flair – Survivor Series 1992
The main event of Survivor Series 1992 was thrown into disarray when The Ultimate Warrior was suspended for failing a steroid test just days before the show.
Incensed by the decision, Warrior quit the company in protest. Warrior was due to team with Randy Savage against Ric Flair and Razor Ramon.
The WWF hastily shot an angle in which Mr Perfect, Flair’s advisor, turned babyface and took Warrior’s spot.
The added bonus was that this became Perfect’s first match in over a year following a devastating back injury.
4. Hart Family vs. Jerry Lawler & His Knights – Survivor Series 1993
The long-running feud between Bret Hart and Jerry Lawler was due to culminate in spectacular style at the 1993 Survivor Series.
Hart was drafting in three of his brothers, of which he has plenty to spare, while Lawler was calling upon his ‘Knights’ as reinforcements.
These were in reality just three guys in masks making one-off appearances for the show.
The match was thrown into jeopardy when Lawler was indicted on charges of statutory rape shortly before the event.
Though the charges were dropped shortly after, it left the WWF once again scrambling for a Survivor Series replacement.
As with the previous year they were lucky enough to have a decent stand-by. This time it was Shawn Michaels, who was returning from a short hiatus.
The masked Knights were portrayed by Barry Horowitz, Jeff Gaylord and ageing former Intercontinental Champion Greg Valentine.
The original concept called for well known names under the hoods, including Terry Funk and Jimmy Snuka.
Up and coming prospect Glen Jacobs – the future Kane – was also considered for a spot.
3. Team Bodydonnas vs. Avatar, Marty Jannetty, Hakushi & Barry Horowitz – Survivor Series 1995
The year of 1995 was one of weird and wonderful characters for the WWF – most of them unmitigated disasters.
Two of these were to perform in the same match, and both were removed for different reasons.
Al Snow’s masked Avatar gimmick was a rip-off on Japanese high-flying sensation Hayabusa, with some Mortal Kombat mixed in for good measure.
He debuted shortly before the Survivor Series in 1995 and was due to team with Marty Jannetty, Hakushi, and Barry Horowitz.
On the opposing team was Body Donna Skip, Rad Radford, Tom Prichard and Jean-Pierre LaFitte, the wrestling pirate.
LaFitte was of course the new solo incarnation of Quebecer Pierre. When he required a hernia operation, Pierre was replaced by the 1-2-3 Kid.
Avatar was pulled because WWF officials were unimpressed with his performances and put Bob Holly in his place.
2. Team Canada vs. Team USA – Survivor Series 1997
The Survivor Series 1997 will forever be remembered for the infamous Montreal Screwjob.
But the traditional elimination match involving Bret Hart’s stablemates could have been quite different too.
Team Canada was originally to include The British Bulldog, Owen Hart and newcomers Tiger Ali Singh and Glenn Kulka.
Both were developmental prospects at the time and countrymen of the Harts. The newbies were dropped in favour of Doug Furnas and Phil Lafon.
When Owen was moved to a singles match with Steve Austin, his place was filled by Jim Neidhart.
An early version of the card also had their opponents listed as Vader, Goldust, The Patriot and Dude Love; the latter two were latter swapped out for Ken Shamrock and Steve Blackman.
1. Triple H vs. Steve Austin vs. The Rock – Survivor Series 1999
Survivor Series 1999 was a busy night for The Big Show, who was involved in two matches, but neither as fans were expecting going into the show.
The big guy was due to team with the odd combination of The Blue Meanie and Kaientai against The Bossman, Viscera, Prince Albert and Mideon.
After a change of heart, Show instead attacked his teammates before the show so he could take on the four opponents singlehandedly. Fair enough.
He wasn’t finished there. WWF Champion Triple-H was due to defend the title against The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin in a triple-threat match.
Austin was written out via an angle that showed him getting hit by a car, an infamous angle that played out in full months later.
In reality, he was leaving to treat a neck injury. Show was appointed his replacement and won the title. Fans were unimpressed to say the least.
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